Ghislaine Maxwell, Former Girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, Found Guilty of Sex Trafficking
Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and heiress who dated convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was found guilty by a New York City jury of helping her former boyfriend groom underage girls for sexual abuse, according to a New York City jury.
On Wednesday, the jury convicted Maxwell of five out of six felony charges that accused her of recruiting, enticing and transporting minors to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein. The charges were laid out in an indictment involving allegations from four different accusers, each carrying its own penalty.
The jury deliberated into a sixth day before reaching a verdict.
Maxwell, now 60, has been behind bars in Brooklyn, N.Y., since she was arrested by the FBI in July 2020. She pleaded not guilty to the charges soon after and has long denied any wrongdoing. Opening arguments in her trial began on Nov. 29.
During a press conference following Maxwell's arrest last year, then U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss detailed some of the allegations against Maxwell, asserting that she helped Epstein "identify, befriend and groom minor victims of abuse" — including girls as young as 14 — and sometimes "participated in the abuse herself."
Strauss stated that Maxwell and Epstein would take girls out to the movies and on shopping trips and pretend to take an interest in them.
"After developing a rapport with the victims, Maxwell then tried to normalize sexual abuse with a minor victim through a process known as grooming," Strauss said, alleging that Maxwell would discuss sexual topics with the girls, undress in front of them and be present for sex acts involving the girls and Epstein.
Sexual contact between the victims and Epstein would often begin with "sexualized massages," during which the underage girls were fully or partially nude, according to Strauss. The massages opened the door for further sexual encounters "where Maxwell was sometimes present and participated," she added.
"It was Ghislaine who was the real enforcer," Sarah Ransome, an Epstein survivor, told PEOPLE earlier this month. "She was the enforcer. She was the groomer. She controlled everything."
Maxwell was found guilty of conspiracy to entice minors to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; conspiracy to transport minors in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; transporting a minor with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors; and sex trafficking of a minor.
Members of the jury found her not guilty of one charge — enticement of a minor to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.
*With reporting by Greg Hanlon and Elaine Aradillas.
This story originally appeared on people.com